Palliative care in advanced heart failure: an international review of the perspectives of recipients and health professionals on care provision

J Card Fail. 2011 Mar;17(3):231-52. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2010.10.003. Epub 2010 Dec 3.


Background: People with advanced heart failure (HF) have demonstrable supportive and palliative care needs. Effective service configuration and delivery should be informed by the views of those with personal experience and knowledge and should be based on available evidence. This systematic literature review aimed to collate qualitative and quantitative evidence on: 1) patients' perceived needs and experiences of care provision; and 2) the perspectives and understanding of health professionals on care delivery.

Methods and results: A systematic literature search using Medline, Embase, Cinahl, Psycinfo, and Amed identified 48 relevant studies. Data extraction and quality evaluation for included studies were conducted by 2 independent reviewers. Findings were grouped according to themes generated from the qualitative studies. Key findings were that advanced HF patients report little discussion with health professionals about their clinical status and sense a lack of timely support to accommodate their evolving needs. Health professionals report poor multidisciplinary communication and lack confidence both in diagnosing advanced HF and in communicating a poor prognosis to those affected, affecting the provision of good-quality coordinated care.

Conclusions: This review demonstrates the need for improvement in coordination of care and communication between patients, their families, and health care professionals. However, although there is broad agreement between the disciplines of cardiology and palliative care regarding the provision of therapies to reduce symptoms, improve function, and enhance quality of life, differences in views may arise, particularly regarding the maintenance of life-prolonging treatment as goals of care change.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel*
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Male
  • Palliative Care / methods*